Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dreams of California

Way back in 1991, I wanted to go to California.  I had many crazy ideas of how to do such a trip and one of my my major ideas was to bicycle the coast  I didn't have the ambition (or the good quality bicycle) to do that type of trip at the time.  I ended up doing a 16 day bus tour from Vancouver.  I admit that I had a great time on it and still have friends that I met on that tour.  I had some adventurous spirit back then though, as I had a tendency to do my own things during the tour.  I'd sometimes forget about time and end arriving back to the bus late, much to the chagrin of my fellow tourers.

Now it's 19 years later and I am revisiting the idea of bicycling California.  I've got the bike, tent, camping gear, and other bike stuff needed for such a trip.  I just need some good panniers.

I've got a year to research and plan such a trip, and I am looking forward to it.  I've got contact information for a person who helped out in Tour De Jasper.  He's biked from Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta a few times.  I'm sure he'd know a lot about doing something like this and give me any advice.

Has any of you ever bicycled in California?  I am thinking of bicycling between San Francisco and Santa Monica, but I've read that Highway 101 has no shoulders and would be busy with tourists.  The only problem is that I can only really get Summers off, and I want to visit some friends in Santa Barbara and Burbank.  I also know that it would be a very hot ride in that area..

How hard is it to pack bike for flight/train, and just HOW do you get a bike in a box to LAX after the trip?

I also wonder how difficult it would be to bicycle from Santa Monica to Burbank to visit friends?  Just ideas right now, things can change....but thinking about it now will help prep me for another excellent adventure.  I remember how beautiful the California (and Oregon) coastline was...Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Solvang, Monterey Bay, etc..all good memories!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August Critical Mass

After missing July's Critical Mass, I was back at it!  Like the one at the end of June, it wasn't too big, this time there were 7 or 8 of us.  It's nice to see though that there are always some people showing up for it, and there was at least one other that has been to them regularly.  There were a few people that I missed, but maybe they are on holidays as it's still Summer.  Hopefully they'll be back in Sept. Critical Mass.

We biked around town for a bit..

Then we biked a big section of the heritage trail that follows the Fraser and the Nechako Rivers.  We stopped for a break near where the Nechako feeds into the mighty Fraser.  It threatened to storm, but never did.  I brought my rain gear just in case!
The lady with the orange bags with yellow stripes made those bags using old workers safety wear.  Looks pretty durable!  They clip on like most panniers which makes them very practical.  What a neat way to recycle!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Axiom Panniers

I am currently borrowing some Axiom panniers from the same friend who lent me the Serratous ones (MEC) for Tour De Jasper.  I had to return the MEC ones because that is the ones she uses all the time, and she didn't need them while I was on Tour De Jasper.  They were smaller, but were much better then the Axiom ones.  There is quite a pannier selection at the Axiom website, but I don't know how they compare to the pair that I am borrowing.

These panniers are bigger then my red ones, but I found that I didn't need big ones on Tour De Jasper because they carried most of my stuff!  I like that these have more room to carry stuff around town, but they are still not as big as my Basil Grocery bag.  I also find that unlike the MEC ones, the clips on top to not stay on the rack very well, and according to the lady I borrowed them from, they can detach if you go over a big bump/pothole, so you have to be careful when going over them.

The good thing about my Basil bags is that they are big!  The bad is that they have to be strapped on, no quick release brackets/clips like these type of bags, it is heavier then the touring type of bags, and I can't just have one side on the bike, it has to be the whole unit.

The good about the MEC or Axiom bags is that they come off easily so I can carry them into the store with me. Also, depending on what I need to do that particular day I can leave one or both on my bike.  The bad is that they are more likely to be stolen, especially if I don't take both off when I go into the store!

The clipping mechanism on the Axiom bags are not really that great.  I am not sure how much these bags cost, but not worth it I think.

I suppose that there is room in life for more then one bag, etc.  I have a choice of bags, baskets, and now a wood crate to put on the rack, so adding a touring set of bags would not be a big jump!  I am borrowing the Axiom bags for the rest of the summer as I was planning on doing one more bike camping trip, but now I am not sure.  I think it's good to test touring panniers out though.  A customer at work tried to sell me some cheap CCM bags that strap on, but why the heck would I want those?  (of course when I got my RM bike last year they asked me why did I spend so much, a $400 bike is just as good.  ROFL!! Yeh, right)  I would prefer ones that you clip on for touring so I can take off if needed...and I don't want cheap!  Even the Axiom bags were better then the CCM ones.

I do know that I want to buy red ones when it comes the time to purchase some.  And I've been told that Ortlieb are the best out there.  They are not cheap, especially the waterproof ones, but apparently they are worth the money.  Victoria used them recently on her ride across USA.

I want to buy a trailer too some time, and I think that would be better for touring, then to have front bags.  What's your preference for touring?  Front bags/back bags, or back bags and trailer?

Tour De Jasper photo by William G.

Now comes the photo swapping time for Tour De Jasper.

William G., who rode the Dutch bike with his wife took this photo of me enjoying a some ice cream at Mt. Robson.  It was a good place for a rest before the next big climb.  Many didn't stop here, but I am glad I did.  It's very rare to enjoy a view like this!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Paragliding with my Brother

I had an adventurous Summer Holidays. First there was Tour De Jasper, then there was paragliding with my Brother. Can it get any better?  There's a lot of waiting for the wind to be just right.  But when it's time, it's time to run like you've never run before!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tour De Jasper Part VI

Above:  Beautiful Moose Lake

When I last left you, I  had reached Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

After enjoying an ice cream at the Park Headquarters, it was time to start the long climb up the Yellowhead Pass. It was a very hot day so I made sure to refill all my water bottles before leaving Mt. Robson.  I also had one bottle of Gatorade as I heard it helps on a hot day like this.  But you must not take too much or you will get sick!

There was this windy canyon just after I left Mt. Robson.  It seemed to wind forever!  I found it easier doing a slow but steady pace, with breaks every so often.  I used alot of the water I was carrying to get up the hill, including part of the bigger bottle that Tour De Jasper coordinator gave us all before the trip.

After the big climb, I reached a flat valley by a lake, Moose Lake.  What a beauty!  At the end of it would be our break, but we stopped for photos along the way. The lady in the sky blue shirt has the same exact bike helmet as I do.

A little ways down we found our rest stop.  I was glad to see it as I was almost out of water, I can't believe how much I drank that day!  As before, our rest stops didn't fail us.
Good place to reapply sunscreen.  I found myself really burning this day.
Harvey and his dog buddy were at it again with sticks.  The water looked inviting as we got off our bikes, all sweaty from the heat, but the water is ice cold and no one dared even dip their toes in it!
After the nice break, we started heading towards Jasper.  There were several hills that we had to go up.  This day would be the hardest climbing that I've ever seen!

Someone has the misfortune to get a flat on one of them, but there was no lack of help around.
It's not a boring scenery day at all, far from it!

We've reached Jasper National Park, woo hoo!  Time to put our clocks 1 hr ahead.
I've also crossed into the province of Alberta and my bike just had to pose for that momentous occasion

There was a little bit of climbing to go then it was all downhill.  Like heaven, what a way to end a trip with an endless downhill and top speed!  Along the way, I spotted this elk.  Some lady yelled from a car, "you are crazy for being so close".  But after I left I saw some dumb tourist walk right to the animal!

After I made it to Jasper I decided to go into the townsite before heading to campsite, we'd be too tired and our bikes not rideable after dinner anyways.  And I wanted a celebratory drink!

But yeh, me and Pura Vida made it to Jasper, a 379 km journey.  I felt proud as I rolled into the townsite.   How many people could bicycle this distance?  There is nothing like the euphoria of completing such a journey, like you would from any other important journey in life.

As a sidenote, I must mention that I love the bike stands that they have all over the town, wish PG had it this good!

And me at Jasper tourism building.  Yeh!  What an incredible trip!

Well, I made it to Jasper on my bike, but that's the end of the story.  There's a little bit more!  Involving a train..and just HOW will we get 25 bicycles back home to PG?  Hope you are enjoying my adventure!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fire Sun

The smoke is hanging in there, no relief yet. Ash is still falling, wondering if I should wear a mask while biking to work.  Here's a photo of the sun early in the morning yesterday.

It's raining ash

I think I am going to limit how much bicycling I do right now, mostly to work and back. I still will buy food, etc..but try not to go too far out of the way. The air quality is very bad due to fires, there is a very thick smoke outside and my apartment smells smoky even though the windows are closed.  I was going to bike camp this weekend, but I think it's not a good idea for my lungs.  This might stick around for days or weeks!

Oh well.  I feel sorry for those with Asthma.

It's so bad that Ash is falling like snow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bates crate on my Rocky Mtn!

Today I got my prize from LGRB Summer Games.  A Bates Crate, made in Chicago, USA.  Wow, it's so beautiful, and so carefully built.  Very good quality handcrafted bike crate, wish I knew the names of the types of joints these are.  They aren't dove-tails are they?.

As I do not have a porter crate compatible bicycle at this time, I attached it to my back rack.  A metal one looks good on her, so I figured that a wood one would be even more special.  I was correct!  I apologize if this is not how it was meant to be used.  But I really want to show it around town.

Thanks Dottie and Trisha for hosting such a neat contest with great prizes like this.  I'm so very happy!  And thanks to Bates Crate for sending one to Canada.

Bicycling during fire season

I woke up today to smoke like this:

This is actually a photo from a few weeks back, but it has come back due to the 400+ forest fires burning in British Columbia at this time.

It certainly made bicycling to work that much harder.  I am glad that I have only a short bike to work, but what if my commute was much much longer?  I am healthy, with no breathing problems, but you got to wonder if bicycling in this thick smoke is bad for your health,  Inhaling smoke from cigarettes is, and I'm sure that there are toxins in this smoke, never mind particles of ash.

I really have limited options as there is no bus running when I go to work, just when I go home.  So I have a choice of biking or walking.  At least with biking, I reduce the exposure to it as I am outside for a shorter time.  I definitely will keep on biking, even during this, but I suppose not pushing it is a good idea.  I will admit though,  that it is stinging my eyes and irritating my throat.

Any feelings out there about bicycling in thick smoke from fires?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tour De Jasper Part V

The last biking day of Tour De Jasper has arrived!  It's a gorgeous day out there, and the rain clouds that simultaneously helped push us to Tete Jaune, yet threatened to storm on us (but didn't) had disappeared overnight.  Today we will be crossing the continental divide into Alberta over the Yellowhead pass at 3,711 ft (1,131 m), which is one of the lowest mountain passes in the Rockies, but still very challenging to bike up through.   The dotted line is the border between Alberta and British Columbia.

 Before we leave the campsite, I'd thought I'd show you Janice, who had almost the same bike as mine.  It doesn't have shocks though and there are screws where you can put a front bicycle rack onto.  Thankfully, there are racks out there that can fit on bikes with shocks so not much of a worry if I ever wanted to buy a front rack for touring.  I have heard though, that using a trailer is a much better idea!
Like my bike, it's been customized to suit her needs.  She has completely different handlebars.  I like how you can make the mass  produced bike YOURS.  She must have a men's bike as it has room for two waterbottles, mine has only room for one.

As we finish climbing up a big hill that we encounter soon after we leave Tete Jaune, I pause to get a photo of me in front of Mt. Robson in the distance.  Nice place to take a quick break as it is a very hot day out there and you get quite hot climbing a big hill in the heat!  I make sure I wear lots of sunscreen, although my lips suffered as I didn't apply sunscreen on them till the last day.  They blistered right up!  I need to sunscreen my lips whenever I am outside.

After a nice quick ride down a steep hill I made it too the entrance of Mount Robson Provincial Park.  Got to take my mandatory photo.

At the park centre I stopped for a much needed break so I could refill my water bottle and also enjoy some ice cream!  That would help me make up up the next long stretch of hill. This was one of those rare days that you could see the top of Mt. Robson.  It's very rare that you do see the top as it's usually covered in clouds.

Mount Robson is the highest peak (12,972 feet [3,954 m]) in the Canadian Rockies.and is a must see if you are visiting Jasper National Park.  I've hike a few times on a trail that goes behind it.  It's a full 2 day hike to get up to Erg Lake which is on the other side of the mountain, it's a hard hike up, but the views will delight you!  It's also a very popular hike, so it is wise to book early if you plan on hiking on it.

Onward to Moose Lake after the next big climb....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tour De Jasper Part IV

You can buy carved animals in Mcbride.  No room on my bicycle for one, unless it's a hummingbird. LOL!!

In the last post, I left you in Mcbride, a small town with a population of 746.

I didn't stay long there, but did have a rest stop at a gas station.  I really needed to refill my water bottle!  I found some bicycles coming in, one was a Cannondale, and I thought it was part of my bike tour resting there.  But it turns out it was owned by a couple from Alaska who were moving south.  They were rearranging their U-haul trailer and had left stuff out, including 2 bikes, while sorting stuff in the trailer.  They were a nice couple though and they gladly watched my bicycle while I went inside the gas station

On my way out, I noticed bicyclists from my tour parked on the other side of the gas station, that I hadn't noticed earlier because of all the traffic around the gas station.

I found today an easy ride as there were strong tailwinds following me.  I could ride 38 kms an hour with little effort!

As I was biking I came across a rest area and noticed many of my fellow tourers resting at it, so I stopped and rested too.  It was a nice warm afternoon.  Here's a photo of me and tour leader/organizer, Nicole.  She biked with me a bit this day, which was so cool!  I'm in the Blue and she's in the Pink shirt.
Here's some photos I took of some of the bikes that the riders had on the tour, you can click on them to get a close up shot.

This guy (can't remember his name) has a Claud Butler bike from the UK.

After a nice break I headed back out again.  I could hear the road calling my name and beckoning me.

Just outside of Tete Jaune and above a BIG hill, I met up with another bicycle group,
Texas 4000 Ride for Cancer.  They were riding to support Cancer research, and they started in Austin Texas, and will end up in Alaska!  I felt kind of sorry for them as I was having a good day with the strong tailwinds and they were climbing up a big big hill INTO the strong winds.  I met this guy with cape which had signatures from those affected by cancer directly or indirectly.  He is a real Superman for doing this big journey!  :)  I think they all are riding a Felt Z85 bike.

More later....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tour De Jasper - Part III

Morning has come to La Salle Lake.
Lucy and Duke are packing up for the day.  They had brought the coolest portable hammock that I've ever seen, they picked it up in Vietnam.

We will be riding about 105 kms or so (65 miles) from La Salle to Tete Jaune. Basically from up top left to bottom right- can't seem to edit google map in photoshop today.

One of many breaks along the way.  We took lots of breaks, I mean, why hurry only to be bored at the campsite?  You got to enjoy the ride and the views.  Things look very different from a bike.
And that sign reminds me of how we felt about passing lane signs.  When you see one for when a passing lane is starting, it means YET another hill to climb up!  When you see passing lane ending signs like this one, you are so elated!  It means you have almost made it to the top of the passing hill.  Different from a car where you hate to see them end. 

Pit stop near Mcbride.

Snacks you'd find at a pit stop. You'd never eat this good biking on your own.

Made it to Mcbride!

More to come, including meeting a group bicycling from Texas to Alaska!


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